Monday, September 29, 2014

Our first vendange



One of the most romantic elements at our new home is the vine-covered trellis that takes up a third of the courtyard. It charmed me immediately. In the mornings, I would be bathed in a soft green light in the kitchen while my tea brewed...


...this after having pushed back the shutters in our bedroom to sail on a sea of green below. Such a lovely start to my day.


The vine's branches twist under and over each other like happy snakes and the grapes grew downwards with a lush promise...


...until they didn't. 

Oh, dear. 

Remi and I watched with consternation as our beautiful bunches turned sour. Within a week, they were shrivelled with disease and began to fall in moldy clumps to the ground. While we scrambled to pick them up, the dogs soon learned the hard way that those left behind were not exactly the tasty treat that they had expected. The sickly sweet odor was attracting a steadily increasing swarm of bees that would dive bomb us throughout the day. Ben is very allergic to bee stings.

Something needed to be done.


The owner had already assured us that as the vine is so old (one friend estimated that it is seventy years of age) that it only produces a decent crop every other year. It was clear that a good pruning job was definitely in order as well. 

Remi and I had already helped a friend pick the grapes for his wine and know what back-breaking work it is. But what to do when the branches are far overhead? We headed to our trusty Mr. Bricolage, the hardware store, for the longest cutter that they had. It was an investment but one that would also be useful for trimming the olive tree in the courtyard at the end of autumn.


 Remi angled the instrument in-between the leaves as best as he could and then with a tug on the red cord to pull the blades shut...snip! snip!...


...the grapes fell to the ground. My job was sweep them into a pile as best as I could. I chased after the rebel rollers with determination. The fruits of our first vendange - or harvest - left little to be desired!


As the hours passed, more of the sky peeked through our previously shaded canopy.

I kept turning my head upwards, missing both the privacy and the touch of character that the grapes had represented.


Eh, oui. Sometimes what is beautiful needs to be sacrificed for practicality. That is just how it goes.

And besides, there is always next year... :)



Have a wonderful week ahead everyone.

25 comments:

  1. Hi Heather,
    "Sometimes what is beautiful needs to be sacrificed for practicality." Yes. Even the beautiful grapevines need pruning.
    When spring comes mornings will be green again. Pleasant and fragrant again.
    Best regards,
    Edgar

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    1. I believe you might know a bit on this subject, Edgar - both from literal and philosophical points of view.

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  2. Plants need love and care just like humans!I am sure next year they will be great ! Music could be a good medicine! I think they have a soul too!

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    1. We can tell that the plants and trees in the courtyard - like the house - are glad we are there. And as for music? There is always music playing chez nous! :)

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  3. Admittedly, I have a terrible habit of choosing beauty over practicality. Gets me into trouble quite often. Here's hoping that next years harvest is bountiful. A good thing to remember is that when life "prunes" us, we come back even stronger and more beautiful!

    Have a beautiful week, Heather! XOXO

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    1. Why didn't I think of that Jeanne?! ;) PS. We were both reading each others blogs at the same time. Typical of our friendship, don't you think?

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  4. Hope you'll have sweeter grapes next year :) Every time I catch a glimpse of your new home I get this urge to move to Provence.

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    1. Oh I would be soooo happy to have you here...

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  5. I second Loree's sentiment! Schooch over . . . we're all moving in! ! ! ;)

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  6. You have such a talent Heather...at making things sound so charming; it's like reading a little chapter from a book...even with your poor diseased grapes...here's to next year and the return of the beautiful crop!
    Thanks for popping by...by the way you have been on my blog roll for ages now ;)
    Have a wonderful week. xx

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    1. I was? I never noticed! I always love a visit chez toi and thank you for the kind, kind compliment.

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  7. I had to smile at the turning point of the story. (: I am growing herbs on my little balkony. Thought it would go quite well until I saw that I am not the only creature who likes them. Plant louses, snails, locusts, beetles and and all sorts of funguses join the feast.
    Difficult if you don't want to use pesticies which I don't!
    I am sure you and Remi will work yourself deep into the topic to create at least your own wine some day! (;
    Ces images des verdures et de soleil tombaient juste bien pendant ce temps grise. On a les pieds dans l'eau dans le sud... chez vous (à Arles) aussi?

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    1. Deja la grisaille??? Oof. No, when I left Arles it was still too hot. I am hoping to find a bit more autumn when I get back. And how nice of you to feed a whole little community! Practically a mini-ecosystem. ;)

      Looks like we both have some figuring out to do...

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  8. Harvest took on a new meaning with this post, Heather. I am still smiling!!!

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    1. It wasn't exactly what I had hoped for but then again what would we have done with ALL of those grapes?!

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  9. You told your story very well! Loved your photo illustrations and had to giggle when I got to the part where I slowly scrolled down "the looooong cutters....." LOL!!

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    1. Yes, the sturdier kind was just one looooong pole without extensions - but it works! Not the most convenient thing to keep around though... ;)

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  10. ....such a shame, and such a mess! But surely next year the crop will be better, and they will be all YOURS. And now that it is getting cooler, having a bit more sunshine coming through the vine will be welcome, yes? xo

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    1. Yes, well said Rebecca - what a great shift in perspective! I am hoping that I will be able to sit outside to have my morning coffee for awhile yet...

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  11. Are you SURE they're all inedible? I feel like I could eat some of those green ones on the ground in the last pic! Poor Ben and Kipling, to have learned the hard way! But, yes, a good lesson in "happiness is accepting things just as they are"!

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    1. Oh they were sick the poor puppers! But that is a good lesson Sister. As always, you know just what to say. :)

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